Former FBI lawyer who altered FISA document pleads guilty in Durham probe

Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith plead guilty Friday after admitting that he doctored a document used in the application process authorizing surveillance against for a former Trump campaign aide — part of the first criminal case brought by U.S. Attorney John Durham in his investigation examining the origins of the Russia probe.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz had previously outlined Clinesmith’s conduct in his report released last year examining the Russia investigation, and referred Clinesmith to the DOJ for prosecution after finding he had altered an email from the CIA that was used by the government in the final FISA renewal application authorizing surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page.

According to a criminal information filing made public Friday, Clinesmith pleaded to one felony charge for making false statements.

“He will be pleading guilty,” Clinesmith’s attorney Justin Shur told ABC News in a statement Friday. “Kevin deeply regrets having altered the email. It was never his intent to mislead the court or his colleagues as he believed the information he relayed was accurate. But Kevin understands what he did was wrong and accepts responsibility.”

The news of Clinesmith’s plea was first reported by the New York Times.

The first FISA application targeting Page was first approved in October of 2016 and signed by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. The first renewal came in January of 2017 under Yates’ signature, the second came in April of 2017 signed by Acting Attorney General Dan Boente and third and final renewal application was filed under the signature of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in June of 2017.

Clinesmith’s alteration only impacted that final renewal application in June of 2017 and was not relevant to the earlier FISA warrants. Horowitz’s report last December outlined numerous errors and omissions by the FBI agents who handled the applications for Page, and the DOJ subsequently declared the final two applications were, including the one implicating Clinesmith, while declining to take a position on the first two applications.

Attorney General Barr last night appeared to preview Clinesmith’s plea in an appearance on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show Thursday evening, which he described as “not an earth-shattering development” for Durham’s investigation but “an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace as dictated by the facts in the investigation.”

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